Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Travel Journal#11.22: Washington, D.C. and Florida

Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 11, No. 22
By Krishna-kripa das
(November 2015, part two)
Washington, D.C., Florida
(Sent from Gainesville, Florida, on December 8, 2015)

Where I Went and What I Did

I began the second half of November by chanting Hare Krishna with my godbrother, Sankarsana Prabhu, for three hours each day for two days in front of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., with Sivam joining us the first day and Guru Das Prabhu, another godbrother, joining us the second day. The next day I flew to Jacksonville, Florida, and chanted Hare Krishna at the University of North Florida, joined by Krishna Club members Youssef and Mallory. The next day Ramiya Prabhu drove me to Tampa, and he and his wife, and Zoë from our Bhakti Yoga Club at the University of South Florida chanted with me at that college. The next day I took a bus to Orlando and chanted with Trivikrama Swami and Dorian Nins at University of Central Florida, and then took a bus to Gainesville and chanted with the Alachua devotees by the University of Florida in the evening. I was based in Krishna House in Gainesville for the rest of the month. The first day at Krishna House, the devotees went to a Zen Awakening festival in Orlando and chanted for several hours. On the days the University of Florida was in session, I chanted with the devotees for two and half hours while they served Krishna Lunch. I made carob coconut burfi for the Thanksgiving dinner we had for the friends of Krishna House the day before Thanksgiving. Afterwards sixteen devotees chanted at the farmers market in Gainesville. I attended the New Raman Reti Festival of the Holy Name, where devotees chanted twelve hours for the two days after Thanksgiving at ISKCON Alachua. Each day I took a break to go on harinama in Gainesville. The second day, forty-four devotees chanted for two hours at the stadium before a football game.

I share notes on a Srila Prabhupada lecture and a quote from his books. I share an excerpt from the online journal of Satsvarupa dasa Goswami. I share notes on a recorded lecture by Radhanath Swami on the anniversary of Srila Prabhupada’s leaving Calcutta for America, and notes on classes by Prabhupada disciples, Brahmatirtha Prabhu, Garuda Prabhu, and Kalakantha Prabhu in Gainesville and an excerpt from a BBC meditation by Krishna Dharma Prabhu, printed in Back to Godhead magazine. I also include notes on a class by a Vaishnava youth Krishna House resident, Dhameshvar Mahaprabhu das Prabhu.

Unlimited thanks to Jagi Kirtan Prabhu, son of Havi Prabhu, for kindly donating his old Macbook to me so I can do my services of proofreading the Back to Godhead and the writings of Satsvarupa dasa Goswami, and producing this journal. I hope Lord Caitanya blesses him with advancement in devotional service to Krishna for his kindness. Many thanks to Sivam of Maryland for donating a smartphone to me and contributing to my travels. Many thanks to Sankarsana Prabhu for giving me two dhotis and also contributing to my travels. Thanks to Molly O'Brien for her pictures of Youssef and me at University of North Florida in Jacksonville. Thanks to Sudevi Dasi and Naifa for the pictures of our harinama and program at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Thanks to Stephanie Elkin for her picture of me and our chanting party at the University of Florida Krishna Lunch. Thanks to Navdeep for accommodation in Jacksonville and to Sudhir for accommodation in Tampa.


December 8–December 15: Gainesville area (December 12 in Tallahassee)
December 16–January 4, 2016: New York City Harinam
January 5–7: Gainesville
January 8: Jacksonville
January 9–22: Orlando
January 23–26: Tallahassee
January 27–February 24: Gainesville area (and Florida campuses)
February 25: New York City
February 26–?: Dublin, Ireland

Chanting in Washington, D.C.

My godbrother, Sankarsana Prabhu, has an incredible setup with a generator, a synthesizer, three microphones, a mixer, an amplifier, two speakers, two tables, books, and prasadam candy.

His book table displays a very powerful quote by Henry David Thoreau in appreciation of Bhagavad-gita, one I often use to create an interest in the book.

In front of the Air and Space Musuem in Washington, D.C., is a great location, with tourists from all over America and from all over the world. The only shortage is devotees having the inclination and the time to join him. Thus I said I would come a few days when traveling between New York and Florida. This time I chanted with him two days in Silver Spring and two days in Washington, D.C. The tunes he plays are very upbeat and pleasant to listen to.

Sivam, who I knew originally from Tallahassee, developed great faith in the holy name as a result of his association with Aindra Prabhu in Vrindavan. Thus he almost infallibly attends the Silver Spring harinama each Saturday and Sunday. He works as a math tutor in the afternoons and evenings, but he was able to join us on Monday in Washington as his first student cancelled.

Guru Das Prabhu, the Satsvarupa dasa Goswami disciple who is in charge of uploading, illustrating, and laying out his online journal, came out with us on Tuesday. He is not afraid to interact with the public, which can be a great asset on harinama.

Chanting at University of North Florida

I flew from Washington to Jacksonville and took city buses two hours to the campus of the University of North Florida where we have a very active Krishna Club. Students from the club are always willing to stop by and sing with us, and this time was no exception. Also students at that school are more willing to stop and talk. 

If a student gazed at me while I was singing, I would stop and say with a smile, “Have you heard of Krishna Club?” Then I would tell him or her about the club. I collected several names for the mailing list and sold a Chant and Be Happy.

I taught the mantra to one girl named Molly, and we chanted it several times together. I got her phone number and email for our contact list.

Two students, Youssef and Mallory, came by. They have both been coming for two years. Molly came by again, and I learned she was friends with Mallory.

Youssef chanted a tune he was learning, and I encouraged him to keep playing until he really got it down. Then I played my favorite tune, which was one of his favorites too. It was wonderful to see how he is learning the harmonium and the mridanga. He told me how he had met Radhanath Swami, and that he was thinking of taking initiation from him. It was inspiring to see his progress.

Amrita Keli Devi Dasi, the Hare Krishna chaplin at the UNF Interfaith Center, arranged for me to stay at the home of an Indian family, Navdeep, Vibhu, and their two girls. They liked the “Damodarastakam,” and we chanted it that evening and the next morning.

Chanting in Tampa

I took a bus from Jacksonville to Lake City, just north of Alachua, and Ramiya Prabhu and his wife, Ananta Devi Dasi, drove me to the University of South Florida in time to chant on the campus. 

I was impressed that Zoë, one of the officers of our club there, chanted with us outside the Marshall Student Center before the program. 

A young Indian man, who often comes to the meetings also joined us.

We did not have a room scheduled in time for the evening meeting, so we had to meet outside the ballroom. Thus we could not chant with instruments as we would disturb the students studying there. We decided to chant Hare Krishna softly on our meditation beads instead. 

Although only three students came they all participated in japa, and they all expressed interest in coming to the Festival of the Holy Name in Alachua, as they like chanting and enjoyed their visit to the Alachua Holi festival the previous spring. To see that much interest was a pleasant surprise. Because kirtana is so important, I suggested we chant outside the Marshall Student Center after our program, and it was nice to see that Zoë also stayed for that.

Chanting at University of Central Florida in Orlando

Dorian, who I used to chant with at the University of North Florida when he was a student there, and who lived in Krishna House in Gainesville for several months, transferred to the University of Central Florida in Orlando to continue his education. As buses from Tampa to Gainesville go through Orlando, I decided to invite him to chant with me at that campus. Because Trivikrama Swami regularly chants at the campus, I asked if he wanted to join us. He was very happy about it, and arranged for one of his assistants to pick me up at the Greyhound and drop me at the Megabus, and I got to chant with Trivikrama Swami and Dorian for 2½ hours in the middle of the day. Some nice students came by. One even bought a Gita. I learned the Dorian chants with Trivikrama Swami twice a week and comes to the Orlando temple on Sunday. I encouraged him to befriend the students who come to the Orlando temple programs and thus inspire them in Krishna consciousness. It was a pleasant visit to Orlando, and I am considering making Orlando a place I regularly go to when I am in Florida, in addition to Jacksonville, Tampa, Tallahassee, and Gainesville.

I arrived in Gainesville while the Alachua devotees were chanting at the corner of the University of Florida, and I had Dhrstadyumna Prabhu, who picked me up at the Megabus, drop me there so I could catch the rest of the harinama. I was glad to be in one place, at my winter base, after three days of traveling.

Zen Awakening Festival

Audrey, a new resident of Krishna House, whose spiritual search culminated in Krishna consciousness, knew many alternative people from Orlando, where she grew up. Some of them were organizers of the Zen Awakening Festival, and thus she was able to secure a place for us to perform for two hours on one of the stages at the festival. We took a van full of devotees. We found the stage was not set up with microphones and amplifiers, so we put out our blankets and chanted in front of it. We decided to do a harinama throughout the site so many people would hear the holy name and some might be attracted to chant with us (https://youtu.be/qj43TfPRg7Y):

Many people happily chanted and danced with us, some for quite a while. Mother Caitanya taught whole groups of people how to chant Hare Krishna on beads and gave them meditation kits. I talked to people from Orlando who liked our kirtana, and I gave them invitations to our Sunday program at our Orlando temple which I had left from my visit to Orlando the previous day. I met a young man who remembered me from a program I did at the University in South Florida in Tampa last year. He is moving to New York City, so I gave him invitations to our programs there. We invited several people who were attracted by our chanting party and who lived north of us, to stop by Krishna House on their way back to their home.

Krishna Dhama, Anapayini, her sister, and other devotees had a booth called “Higher Taste” where they sold prasadam. They were happy to see our chanting party was also there. Anapayini told me after our chanting party past by, she was amazed to see several people chanting Hare Krishna, as a result of hearing us, following along behind.

One young man named Fred from Miami spent two or three hours with our chanting party, and he had a great time. He almost accepted Mother Caitanya’s invitation to come back to Krishna House with us.

At the Zen Awakening Festival, we also met Youssef and Richie from the Krishna Club at the University of North Florida, who were there to do a workshop on kirtana. Their venue also was not ready on time, and so they joined our chanting group for a while.

Many people delighted in chanting and dancing with us as you can see from these video clips, and all the Krishna House devotees were happy we attended the event (https://youtu.be/1Ghbw1feI98):

Many, many thanks to Audrey, for arranging our participation in it.

Thanksgiving Dinner at Krishna House

We did not serve lunch on the campus the day before Thanksgiving, but we served a special lunch with thirteen preparations at Krishna House, and we invited our special friends. Gauranga Prasada Prabhu, suitably named by his guru Kalakantha Prabhu, organized and did much of the cooking. Before the meal, we chanted Hare Krishna for fifteen minutes and asked all the people who came to share something they were thankful for.

Curiously, the only part I remember is Anna, an older Quaker lady who chants Hare Krishna, began by saying she was thankful that she was not a turkey.

I recorded most of the words of thanks, and you can hear them at https://soundcloud.com/krishna-kripa-das/thanksgiving.

I made carob coconut burfi, a sweet I had made for street distribution in San Diego for many years, and the devotees liked it.

You can see some of the amazing preparations in the pictures below.

Some found it hard to hold all the preparations.

Some took some for their friends.

There were four desserts.

This is my carob coconut burfi.

Christiana and Vanna were among the happy servers.

About a hundred and twenty people attended.

Harinama at the Farmers Market

I was so happy that sixteen devotees came on harinama at the Farmers Market after our Thanksgiving feast. That was something for me to give thanks for.

One very little girl played our tambourine in time with the music, her eyes fixed on the chanting devotees for at least fifteen minutes, a very long time for a girl that size.

Several people watched the chanting with approval for some time.

Here is a little video clip of the chanting and dancing (https://youtu.be/O-KKx8UhCYQ):

Festival of the Holy Name

The Festival of the Holy Name in Alachua was wonderful as usual. It was different because some of our most inspiring singers, Bada Haridas Prabhu and Madhava Prabhu, had not returned from Vrindavan. Still there were so many amazing local singers it was wonderful, and we were blessed to have Agnidev Prabhu from Trinidad, with his sweet singing and Prabhupada memories.

I thought Tulasi-priya Devi Dasi sang a really lively tune that got lots of people dancing.

Mitra Prabhu and his family and friends did some upbeat tunes, and I loved to see his delight in doing music for Krishna.

Havi Prabhu and his family led an incredibly sweet kirtana that made me joyful.

Amala Kirtana Prabhu also chanted tunes that induced a lot of participation, and Amala Harinama Prabhu was wonderful as usual.

It is wonderful how so many of the Vaishnava Youth in Alachua cooperate together to put on the festival. We cannot congratulate them enough. Several friends of mine as well as myself consider it the best festival we have in Alachua.

For the first year, we had consistently warm weather, with high temperatures in the seventies (21–26° C).

Because I consider it my service to promote the congregational chanting of the holy name among the people in general, I took a break from the festival and went on harinama with the harinama devotees both days, probably missing six or seven hours out of the twenty-four.

The first day we chanted at the corner of University Avenue and 13th Street, by the University of Florida, where Alachua devotees have been chanting for years.

The next day we chanted at the stadium.
Chanting at the Stadium

Because of all the devotees in town for the Festival of the Holy Name, forty-four devotees, more than I ever remember, came to chant at the stadium before the UF Gators / FSU Seminoles football game the last Saturday in November.

Since the game began at 7:30 p.m., many fans had been drinking much of the day, and in their intoxicated state, many were willing to dance with the devotees. Thus it was the game harinama with the most participation by the fans out of the seven Gators games this year that devotees had chanted before.

You can see in this video how lively it was (https://youtu.be/MdWbliw4zGg):

Hannah, whose parents had been taking her to games since 1997, when she was just a kid, loved to stand above the chanting devotees and listen to their kirtana. She told us this when she visited our Krishna Club at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. As I recalled that and that fact she lives in Tallahassee, the home of the FSU Seminoles, I told her we would be chanting at the game, and asked her if she was going. She said she was and was happy to learn she would meet the devotees again.

This time, instead of just listening from inside the stadium, she joined the chanting party, singing and dancing for ten or fifteen minutes, along with a friend, Darrin, from Tallahassee, who remembered me from a visit to the Tallahassee temple. I rejoiced in seeing the two experience participating in harinama for the first time. She also told me her tulasi neck beads broke, and that she did not feel complete without them. I promised to bring some to Tallahassee the next time I come. I had not realized she had developed such a devotional attachment to tulasi before.

Chanting at Krishna Lunch

On the last day of the month, I chanted on the campus during Krishna Lunch. Representatives of Future Music Makers, a youth music education nonprofit, promoting a benefit concert, asked students at University of Florida to complete this sentence: “Music has transformed me because . . . ” So I did, and they took my picture.

Thanks to Stephanie Elkin for the photo. I put it on Facebook and over 60  people liked it. I shared it with Stephanie and she replied, “Thank you! Our team loved the post!”

Krishna House Evening Kirtana

Ever since I was a new devotee back in the 1979, I liked the evening kirtana we would have in the temple after a day of service. It brings me great joy to see the enthusiasm of my friends at Krishna House for their evening kirtana (https://youtu.be/e5nvIa9wa2I):

For photos I did not include in this journal, click on the following link:


From Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.40.16: 

[Akrura prayed to the Supreme Lord:] “To enjoy Your pastimes You manifest Yourself in various forms in this material world, and these incarnations cleanse away all the unhappiness of those who joyfully chant Your glories.”

Srila Prabhupada:

From a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.8.29 in Los Angeles on April 21, 1973:

A sadhu is not a worldly good or bad man. He is above that. He is transcendental.

The sadhu is already delivered by his engagement in the Lord’s service, but because his inner desire is to see the Lord, the Lord comes.

When the Lord kills the demons, it is not out of envy, but to benefit them, as a parent chastises his children to benefit them.

Both the delivering the devotees and chastising the demons are pastimes for the Lord.

If you satisfy Krishna in all respects, you will be satisfied in all respects.

“We are thinking that ‘Krishna has got some mission, some purpose. Therefore He has appeared.’ No. It is His pastimes. It is pastime. Just like sometimes the governor goes to inspect the prison house. He has no business to go to the prison house. He is getting report from the superintendent. . . . Still, sometimes he comes: ‘Let me see how they are doing.’ It is called pastime. It is his free will. Not that he has become subjected to the prison laws and he has to come to the prison. No, not like that. But if the prisoners think, ‘Oh, here the governor is also in the prison. So we are equal. We are equal. I am also governor . . . ’ (laughs) The rascal thinks like that. ‘Because Krishna has come, descended, avatar, so I am also avatar.’ This rascaldom is going on.

“Because Krishna wants to fight, therefore some of His devotees come down to become His enemy. Just like Jaya-Vijaya, this Hiranyakasipu and Hiranyaksa.

“Do you think they are ordinary living entity? If . . . Nṛsimha-deva, God Himself has come to kill him. Do you think they’re ordinary? No, they’re not ordinary. They’re devotees. But Krishna wanted to fight. In the Vaikuntha world there is no possibility of fighting, because everywhere there, everyone there is engaged in Krishna’s service. With whom He'll fight? (laughter)

“Therefore He sends some devotee in the garb of enemy, and Krishna comes here to fight with Him—at the same time, to teach us that becoming enemy, enemy of Krishna is not very profitable. Better become friend. That will be profitable.”

“. . . when Mother Yasoda wanted to see His mouth open, whether He has eaten earth, dirt, He showed within the mouth all the universes. So this is Krishna. Although He is playing just like ordinary child, ordinary human being, but when there is need, He shows His godly nature. Just like Arjuna. He was driving the chariot, but when Arjuna wanted see His universal form, immediately He showed him—thousands and millions of heads and weapons. This is Krishna.”

Satsvarupa dasa Goswami:

“The Hare Krishna chanters
have been granted a
sacred spot in the City.
They have claimed
it as their turf, and it
has been also given
to them by Krishna.
It is nicely located
under a few shade trees
but right in the midst
of busy pedestrian
traffic. They go there
every day and sit and
hold kirtana for long hours.
Krishna protects their
right to be there,
and it is like an open temple
to the public.
They are fortunate to have this area
where hundreds of people pass by daily
and receive the all-auspicious impact of
the Hare Krishna mantra.
The sound vibration has the potency
to remove sinful reactions and
plant seeds of love of God.
The chanters are doing the
best service possible for the
suffering masses and
becoming pure devotees in the process.”

Radhanath Swami:

From a recorded lecture on the 50th anniversary of Srila Prabhupada leaving Calcutta for the U.S.A:

Srila Prabhupada, his youngest son, and three others came to site of the Jaladuta’s departure that day.

He did not have the social connections and money which people usually have to make such a voyage but depended on Krishna and the order of his guru.

Srila Prabhupada had great difficulty paying for the third volume of his Srimad-Bhagavatam. He sat on the steps of Srimati Moraji’s office until she agreed to pay for it.

It took a tremendous amount of confidence for Srila Prabhupada to go against the wise words of Srimati Moraji regarding the dangers of his going to America.

In Calcutta there are traffic jams even for ships.

Srila Prabhupada said, “It is Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati’s desire, it is the will of Lord Caitanya that the holy name would be spread throughout the world.” He saw himself as an instrument.

“Markine Bhagavata Dharma” is the practical essence of how to follow Bhagavad-gita. It is the foundation for ISKCON. It reveals Srila Prabhupada’s spirit and the spirit he wants to awaken in each and every one of his followers. It is a supreme manifestation of the realization of trnad api sunicena: “One should be more tolerant than the tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige and ready to offer all respects to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.”

Because Srila Prabhupada cooked for the Agrawal family they did not have to keep meat, fish, and eggs in their refrigerator while he was there.

Sally Agrawal said that her father-in-law had asked her husband to sponsor many people, but none had ever come. As far as she knew her husband was the only Indian in the State of Pennsylvania.

She had the newspaper do an article on Srila Prabhupada so she would not have to explain him to each and every friend.

I went years later to Slippery Rock College where Prabhupada had spoken in 1965. The same professor Larson invited me to speak. Prabhupada had hours between classes. He and the professor sat in a park. And he asked about all the trees. Larson told him. Then Prabhupada told Prof. Larson about trees in Vrindavan, then about Krishna’s pastimes with the trees, and then his whole philosophy. Prof. Larson did not know what had happened with Prabhupada after he left Slippery Rock. I told him about the many temples, the sankirtana, etc. Tears came to his eyes. He said, “I believe it, but I can’t believe it. He was so simple. He was the simplest man I ever met. I never thought he could organize a worldwide religious movement.”

Dr. Mishra explained, “Srila Prabhupada cooked with so much love, that his love and his prasadam saved my life.”

On a morning walk in Mayapur in 1976, Srila Prabhupada explained after cooking for Dr. Mishra and eating together with him, he would go and loiter at Fifth Avenue. “My loitering was to study the Americans. I would walk up and down Fifth Avenue alone, and I would study the America people so I could reach them with this message of Lord Krishna.”

Rubin, a Turkish Jew, observed Srila Prabhupada sitting alone on a bench and talked with him. He looked poor, and he looked alone. But he said he was not poor. “We [he always would say “we”] have many temples filled with many devotees and many books are being distributed. All these things I see, but we are only separated by time.” He said he was not alone. He was always with his spiritual master.

Brahmatirtha Prabhu:

Q: What determines the value of a devotee?
A: To thine own self be true, then thou cans’t be false to any man.

Clearing the dirt from the mind is the first step, and it is best done in an ashram situation. Then we can understand our nature and how to engage it. We become confident that we know what we are doing.

Q: How did you come to Krishna consciousness and why did you stay?
A: I was the only English guest at the first Mayapur festival. The main question for me, which I asked everyone, was “What is most important to understand in Krishna consciousness?” After hearing many answers from the fired-up youthful devotees, I asked Srila Prabhupada, and he answered in a way that included all the other answers, “Good association.”

There was a study done in 1950 on whether nature or nuture had the most influence on a person. It was done by dividing twins and bringing them up separately. It would be considered cruel to do that now. The result of the study was 50% their own nature, 10% the influence of the parents, and 40% the influence of the others around them.

Thus who we associate with is most important for our spiritual life. Who we trust is who to associate with.

Q (by Brahmatirtha Prabhu): What do to when a relationship breaks?
A (by Brahmatirtha Prabhu): See it as an opportunity to make the relationship deeper and better.

There is a science of microexpressions that describes different expressions that reveal a person’s mentality. These expressions are cross-cultural.  

In the West, we tend to think in terms of this or that rather than this and that, as in the East. Lord Caitanya’s philosophy of acintya bheda-abheda tattva, which states we are inconceivably and simultaneously one with and different from God is the epitome of seeing this and that.

It was super attractive about Srila Prabhupada that his mind and heart were completely integrated.

A lot of people do not know that the French cardinal that Srila Prabhupada called a hypocrite died of heart attack in a prostitute’s bed two weeks later. He benefited by Srila Prabhupada’s association in that his body, and thus his sinful activities, came to an end.

Comment by Abhimanyu Prabhu: Urmila Mataji explains that of the different qualities of speech recommended by Krishna [truthful, not agitating, reciting the Vedic literature, and beneficial], beneficial is most important.

Garuda Prabhu:

On the topic of terrorism:

Fifteen thousand teachers of religion meet yearly at the American Academy of Religions meeting. I delivered a paper there on “God and Evil in Christianity and Hinduism.”

In the Abrahamic traditions God’s relationship with this world is one of judging.

You cannot have love (bhakti) if God is always judging and controlling. Love thrives in freedom.

The Abhrahamic traditions do not have the law of karma.

We understand there is a cycle of birth and death, and it is up to us to transcend it.

The Abrahamic idea is the soul is created at conception and continues eternally, either going up or down. Everyone is created equally in their conception, but we see this is just not true. Mozart was composing symphonies at age 7 that are still being played today. So the question is where does this come from?

The Jews consider the soul is born with the body and ends with the body, and that people are differently situated is accepted but considered a mystery.

The Christian and Islamic conception is that you are judged once, and you have to pay for it eternally. You have one chance only. There is not a second chance.

The Islamic tradition is slightly better because there is an option of getting out of hell.

Why would a God have a person born with defects in their first and only birth?

Krishna is antaryami, the inner controller, but it is up to us to choose how we act.

The Western traditions say it is either free will or fate. In the Vedic tradition in the mode of goodness we have more free will and in the mode of darkness we are more controlled.

We cannot expect to attain happiness if we are participating in the misery of other living beings. But we are all participating in the misery of other living beings.

Bhagavad-gita teaches implicitly that ultimate morality in this outer world is impossible, we have to go within. There are no pure solutions in this world.

The more we are devoted to softening the heart, we can override the ethical considerations of this world.

If we do hurt other living beings, at least they are contributing to a life of devotion to the Lord, which is the purpose of life.

Why do people cause distress to others? They are experiencing so much pain that the only way they can deal with that to cause distress to others. They want to end their life but are too cowardly to kill themselves, so they torture others to come to a point where they feel there is no alternative but to kill themselves.

Fear can motivate humans to do atrocious things. It is a true enemy.

Terrorism means to ruin the lives of the living even if it means the terrorist has to kill himself.

Why are terrorists referred to as Islamic when they do things that are not accepted by Islam?

We have to focus on the core teachings of bhakti and see things in relationship with that.

There are people who take a scripture of millions of people for many centuries as permission to commit terrorism. This is the most heinous act.

Religion should not be used for anything. Religions should be appreciated and enacted. Merold Westphal [a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University] spoke about religion as ideally being “useless,” in that it should not be used for anything but appreciated intrinsically for itself. As soon as we humans USE religion, we’ve got problems.

Lust is to use others without their considering feelings and thoughts.

Lust, envy, and fear are at the heart of terrorism.

Ravana demonstrated different aspects of terrorism to kidnap Sita: he disguised himself and he distracted Rama and Laksmana. After the war, Rama did not at first take Sita back, and then after he finally did, he later rejected her for political reasons. Although Ravana did not touch Sita, he broke up the royal marriage.  As a terrorist, Ravana did not mind losing his life to do this.

In Ecclesiastes, Qohelet reluctantly accepts God’s behavior, which he cannot really understand, yet in the end affirms his devotion.

Kalakantha Prabhu:

There is a very strong sense of not wanting to accept any authority and wanting to figure it out by ourselves, but if we do not take instruction from spiritual authorities, we will end up taking instruction from materially attached people.

Comment by Dhameshvar: People have goals but not comprehensive goals.

Happiness is attained by progressive realization of a worthwhile goal.

A friend of ours who manages a successful waffle house says his biggest problem is to find employees who smile. At Krishna Lunch we do not have that problem.

Comment by Alex: In one book by Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, he tells that he survived the holocaust because he had a goal in life, and thus he concluded that everyone must find a goal, no matter what it is.

Comment by Dhamesvara Prabhu: Frankl said that everyone should find an unconditional goal in life as those who had other goals became disappointed when they were not attained.

Religion is theoretical until we meet the pure representative of God.

There is a great fear of following and being cheated. This results in impersonalism.

We need to be ideal in our behavior and have integrity to represent Srila Prabhupada. Association and practice can help us in this.

To say “I will only do my propensity” or for me to completely deny my propensity are both unsustainable.

Comment by Tulasirani Devi Dasi: Despite my other duties, every day I try to do something according to my nature for Krishna to feel satisfied in devotional service.

Krishna is not in need of our service. It is for our benefit that we perform devotional service.

Although Hiranyakasipu and Prahlada were treated completely differently by Nrsimhadeva, they were both benefited by Him.

As one sandalwood tree makes an entire forest fragrant, one devotee in a family makes the entire family glorious.

When Srila Prabhupada was initially planning for the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium, he said, “Krishna created 16,000 palaces in Dvaraka. He does not need our temple.”

Krishna is not only happy with us when things are going nicely.

We can turn to Krishna in any circumstance and be completely satisfied. We may understand this theoretically, but it may take a lifetime to fully live on this platform.

We must realize that there is no program whereby we are going to find a sustainable enjoyable situation for permanent happiness in this material world.

Krishna has it all, but He can give it up in a moment.

Our idea of how we want to serve Krishna may not be Krishna’s idea of how He wants us to serve Him. If we are too attached to our idea, we may require some gentle, or not so gentle, correction by Krishna.

Do not tell the students they must give up this or that. Invite them to add chanting and prasadam to their college experience. If they do that, they will get some realization and will progress spiritually.

Q: How do we please Radharani?
A: By trying to please Krishna. And we please Krishna by pleasing the spiritual master.    

It looks like we are just promoting our religion, but we are actually teaching another form of consciousness.

If people chanted Hare Krishna, global warming would be solved. The movie Cowspiracy shows how cow slaughter is the major cause of global warming.

Krishna will not give us any test we cannot pass, but He may push us to the limit.

Fear of shame is a great motivating factor in men. Thus if a man does something embarrassing, he may avoid the association of devotees, which it is not good for his spiritual life.

Q: (by Tulasirani Devi Dasi) I find when I pray for purification, I get experiences which are so traumatic I can hardly deal with them. But I still have so many anarthas [unwanted desires], I fear I will have to have so many more traumatic experiences to become purified from them.
A: If we make Krishna’s pleasure our focus, then we will not have to worry about our purification.
A (by me, after class): This verse indicates that we do not have to suffer to become purified. We need only cultivate eagerness to hear of Krishna: “Sri Krishna, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramatma [Supersoul] in everyone’s heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who has developed the urge to hear His messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.17)

Even when face to face with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Prahlada Maharaja did not forget his guru.

Srila Prabhupada said choosing a guru is more important than choosing a spouse.

Srila Prabhupada said that the siksa and diksa gurus are equal and identical manifestations of Krishna.

The diksa guru is a single person who gives the mantra, gives a spiritual name, frees one from his karma, and takes responsibility of delivering the disciple, in addition to giving instruction.

Arguments against rtvik:

Comment by Bhakta Mike: To say that Srila Prabhupada was incapable of producing any disciples who were qualified to give initiation is a great insult.

Comment by Tulasirani Devi Dasi: Srila Prabhupada indicated that after he left, the disciples initiated by the devotees he recommended would be their disciples.

Comment by Krishna-kripa das: There is no example of the rtvik system anywhere in Srila Prabhupada books and the idea that he wanted to introduce a new system of initiation that he did not mention anywhere in his books at the end of his life does not make a bit of sense to me.

Focusing on Srila Prabhupada as the preeminent siksa-guru and the founder-acarya of ISKCON creates unity.

Making a vow to a spiritual master gives one the strength to practice.

Chocolate is a real-life detail.

Some inappropriate reasons to choose a guru: they are popular, they dull down the philosophy [so I do not have to surrender so much], etc.

Comments by me:

To surrender to someone who is more intelligent than us, namely Krishna, who is omniscient, makes sense.

This verse shows how serving Krishna benefits our self and everyone else:

yatha taror mula-nishecanena
tripyanti tat-skandha-bhujopashakhah
pranopaharac ca yathendriyanam
tathaiva sarvārhaṇam acyutejya

“By giving water to the root of a tree one satisfies its branches, twigs and leaves, and by supplying food to the stomach one satisfies all the senses of the body. Similarly, by engaging in the transcendental service of the Supreme Lord one automatically satisfies all the demigods and all other living entities [including oneself].” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.31.14)

Krishna Dharma Prabhu:

From a BBC meditation, printed in Back to Godhead, Vol. 50, No. 2, p. 21:

“In Sanskrit, the language of the ancient sages of India, there is no word for chance, as it is a concept they do not acknowledge. The nearest equivalent to the word chance is a word that simply means unknown cause, as the sages believe everything in this world is cause and effect, and the ultimate cause is God.

Sir Isaac Newton once said, “Don’t doubt the Creator, because it is inconceivable that accidents alone could control the universe” – which is a view that makes perfect sense to me. If intelligence is indeed controlling nature in all her intricate complexity, then it must be a pretty big intellect.”

“I have heard it said that we are always seeing God but we just don’t recognize Him. So now that spring is here, I at least, will once again be doing my best to make His acquaintance.”

Dhameshvar Mahaprabhu das Prabhu:

In my opinion the story of Prahlada is the most awesome and epic story in the Srimad-Bhagavatam because everything is so superlative. Hiranyakasipu is so very demoniac, and Prahlada is so perfectly saintly.

You will never find time for devotional service unless you make time.

Materialistic people always notice when their money and favorite foods are running out, but they do not notice how their life is running out day by day.

Lord Vishnu is pleased simply by the desire to please Him.

It is much easier to please Lord Vishnu than all the people in your life.

Two comments by me which I did not have a chance to make:

Hiranyakasipu’s objection to the killing of his brother by Lord Vishnu was actually unreasonable. His brother traveled around the universe picking fights with innocent people. Lord Vishnu only killed him to protect the innocent people from his harrassment. Hiranyakasipu’s sentimental attachment to such a rascal of a brother is actually what is objectionable.

Prahlada Maharaja’s teachings are very relevant to us because he was born in a demoniac society and had to defeat the same demoniac views that we are confronted with and show how devotion to the Supreme Lord Vishnu is actually quite reasonable.

Srila Prabhupada described a society where all persons would be encouraged to follow their own religions with the aim of trying to please the Supreme Lord.

The Moslem religion does support other manifestations of monotheism. When Mohammed returned to Mecca, he did not destroy the people who formerly persecuted him but created a social contract where they were included. Only he destroyed all the idols, but Jesus and Mary, desiring to promote monotheism.

Q (by Tulasirani Devi Dasi): There was a problem in ISKCON with children being forced to perform devotional service and not allowed to play, and thus they resented devotional service when they grew up.
A (by Kalakantha Prabhu): Prahlada discouraged play for the materialistic students, not for devotee students whose play can include devotional service.

80% of Prabhupada’s instructions on varnasrama were given in the last two years of his life.

Comment by Kalki Prabhu: Srila Prabhupada, following Rupa Goswami, encouraged people to add the chanting of Hare Krishna to their lives and gradually introduce other practices later.

Comment by Abhimanyu Prabhu:  It is better to focus on the fact that the four regulative principles are four regulative principles of freedom that free us to expand our devotion to the Lord instead of restricting us from enjoying life.

In Chapter Eleven of the Gita, in verse 48 Krishna says His universal form cannot be attained by different methods. Then in verse 53, Krishna says His personal form cannot be attained by different methods, but in verse 54, He says it can be attained by bhakti.

Kunti is not praying for calamaties but to see Krishna at any cost. Kunti there refers to Krishna as jagad-guru, spiritual master of the universe, because all those calamaties taught her so many lessons.

Mahabharata calls Kunti the siddhi-shakti of the Lord, and Srila Prabhupada describes her as the Lord’s success potency. By keeping our faith in Krishna through all calamaties, we will be successful as Queen Kunti was.

Comment by Abhimanyu Prabhu: It is amazing that Kunti prays for detachment from the Pandavas and Vrishnis when Kapila says attachment to devotees is the path of liberation. Thus it is to be understood she desired to be freed from seeing them in a material way.

Comment by Vanna: The one about having devotion like the Ganges flows to the sea is most inspiring to me of Kunti’s prayers and reminds me not to gratify my senses and to make everything for Krishna.

Comment by Carlos: I like that verse too. It is the first one I ever memorized.

From a conversation:

Devotees are the only ones you can offer dirt to and they will eat it and be grateful. [This refers to sacred dust from the pilgramage places associated with the Lord.]


The verse below is very inspiring to me. It mentions the joy of the congregational chanting of the holy name, and the result of chanting, love for God [Krishna].

tattva-vastu—krishna, krishna-bhakti, prema-rupa
nama-sankirtana—saba ananda-svarupa

“The Absolute Truth is Sri Krishna, and loving devotion to Sri Krishna exhibited in pure love is achieved through congregational chanting of the holy name, which is the essence of all bliss.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Adi-lila 1.96)